Which is not to be confused with road kill. No, I'm talking about stopping to eat while on a road trip. More specifically, the first time I took a road trip where I was the person behind the wheel, captain of my particular Enterprise. In charge of my destiny. Which, in this case, meant having the choice of when and where to stop for bathroom breaks and sustenance.
My first real taste of this sort of freedom was a trip to San Francisco with Andrea, a friend from Germany. We were both in our late teens (over 18, but under 21) and she was visiting our family for the summer. I wanted to take a theatrical combat workshop in Golden Gate Park being taught by an ex flame of mine (we later became engaged, but that's another story) and Andrea wanted to explore more of California. We'd have a place to stay and very little expenditure besides money for gas and food. Road trip!
Andrea and I got along with a comfortable familiarity that usually comes with years of friendship (our friendship, although separated by oceans, is still strong) and spent time bickering over whether or not I could handle driving on the Autobahn (I insisted I could, she said she doubted it. Years have taught me she was probably right), discussed the men (okay, boys) in our lives, and generally enjoyed the heady freedom of two young and attractive not-quite-women on an adventure sans any sort of guardianship. What really brought home that sense of freedom was the very first stop for something to eat along the way. I don't remember where we stopped or what we ate. It might have been as simple as a cup of coffee to keep awake as the hour grew late and the I-5 stretched in front of us. But I DO remember the feeling of absolute joy as I realized I could stop anywhere I wanted, eat anything I wanted, and had to answer to nothing other than my budget.
I've driven cross country a few times, up and down the length of California many times, and other random day trips, and each Stucky's (Caramel Nut Logs and Date Shakes here!), Flying J Truck stop, little off-the-beaten-path cafe or greasy spoon brings back that sensation of being in total control and having absolute freedom at the same time. Food never tastes so good as it does on a road trip.